I’ve been a regular volunteer at my parish’s Vacation Bible School for a couple years now. I love working with kids, even if they can be exhausting. There’s just something about kids that makes me smile.
Summertime is a popular time for retreats. Unfortunately, these retreats are often expensive, so for the past couple years, Vacation Bible School has been the closest thing I get to a summer retreat before I go off to volunteer for my local Awakening retreat. (If you don’t know what an Awakening retreat is, go to the Awakening Retreat site and find one in your area. It’ll change your life.)
I’ll be the first to admit that the idea of VBS is kind of ridiculous. It’s watered-down Scripture lessons with more time spent on games and food than actually learning anything. The themes are bit silly as well and it boggles the mind how you can relate themes like “G-Force,” “Jungle Safari,” and “Treasure Island” to the Bible. Not to mention that the songs range from pretty good to mediocre to just plain awful. And this is coming from the girl who listened to the many, many one-hit wonder bands that came out in the early 2000s.
But truth is where you find it. And while the music, the games, and the activities can all be very silly, there are still things adults can learn alongside their kids from the lessons that Vacation Bible School teaches.
The theme for the first VBS I volunteered at was Athens. I played the role of a shopkeeper who did crafts with the kids. The stories in VBS focused on Paul preaching the Gospel to those who didn’t know or didn’t believe in God in Athens. The shopkeepers were asked to portray different perspectives. I pretended to be someone who didn’t believe in God but grew to understand Paul’s teachings. It was my first time volunteering and there were some messes made, but I was inspired by how the kids kept cool under pressure, even when I spilled a bottle of ink while in the middle of teaching them how to write Greek letters.
A year ago, the theme my parish did was Wilderness Escape, which coincided nicely with a period of spiritual dryness that I struggled with at the time. The Bible adventures focused on Moses and the Hebrews wandering in the desert. This time, I was a group leader. The lessons that I was teaching to the kids also applied to me, in a great instance of Divine Providence. I also learned that sometimes, I’m just as temperamental as the kids can be when they act like sore losers, but in the end, it’s all in good fun.
This year, my parish is doing Everest. The Bible stories that the kids will learn will center on the prophet Elijah, the healing of Naaman, Jesus having the power to forgive sins, and Jesus’s promise of everlasting love. The catchphrase for Everest is “Hold on!” and the songs center on holding onto our faith and trusting in God. My favorite one is “One Thing Remains,” given that it’s an actual song. But given how my faith has been constantly tested this year, I hope to get as much out of the lessons and key verses this week as much as the kids do.
There will hopefully be pictures at the end of the week. Pray for the earthquake victims in Nepal as well as for the kids going through VBS this summer.